Writings

The main point of this website it to collect Timothy Erik Ström’s writings in one place, which is to say, here. They are all laid out below in counter-chronological order. Within this, the two biggest pieces of work also get stand alone pages, namely my book, Globalization and Surveillance, and my PhD thesis, Mapping Google Maps.

2020: Speaking Power to Truth: Trump’s Contradictory Strength and the Possibility of a Coup

“Flash forward a few months into the very near future and imagine a moment when Trump, having to face up to an election, thinks it might just be better not to have one.” Published on the 7th of July, this editorial can be found in full at Arena Online.

2020: Undead Undone? Coronavirus and Capitalism

The Old Man and Death, 1774, Joseph Wright

Published on the 7th of April, this article is the founding editorial of the new publication, Arena Online, a weekly publication of radical and critical commentary. This link goes to a version of the article on this website, and this goes to the original one at Arena.

2020: Globalization and Surveillance

Globalization and Surveillance was published by Rowman and Littlefield in February 2020. For more on this book, please see here.

2020: Journey to the centre of the world: Google Maps and the abstraction of cybernetic capitalism

Omphalos of Delphi , photo by author, 2017.

This article is published in the academic journal, cultural geographies, and here is its’ abstract:

Across human history, many cultures have produced different ‘centres of the world’, with cartography often being bound up in the construction and representations of this axis mundi. A contemporary manifestation of these ancient phenomena can be seen in Google Maps, the most popular world-map ever made. Google use surveillance to present various types of customized centres-of-the-world, with their global representation being automatically tailored for specific subjects. This study uses engaged theory to analytically separate the levels of abstraction inherent in these processes, connecting empiric observations with large-scale historic transformations, with a focus on subjective and material changes in relation to the capitalist world-system. It is argued that the automated, atomizing processes bound up in Google Maps serve to projects intensifying abstractions into everyday social practice, thus reconstituting how space and time are experienced, as well as being intimately bound up with intensifying processes of capital accumulation and social control.

Assuming that one is not excited about paying SAGE Publishing an absurd amount of money (that they don’t share with their authors), then here is a downloadable version of the article without the paywall.

2020: Abstracting Money: Cryptocurrencies, Cybernetics and Contradictions

Published by the Australian Humanities Review, this article goes into the crypt of cryptocurrencies, the eerie and hidden realm of networked computing-machines that enable this financial mutation. The article looks at how the global history of money can be understood as an increasingly abstracted social and material practice.

PDF version / HTML version

2020: The Limits of Control

This article was published in the first edition of the new series of Arena., and it is an edited extract from my book, Globalization and Surveillance. Through analysing the parallels between China’s State Council and Google, I look at how surveillance is used by the powerful in place of solidarity, noting both the strength and and simultaneous limits of this controlling vision.

It can be downloaded from here.

Timothy Erik Ström, ‘The Limits of Control’, Arena, No.1, Autumn, 2020, pp.38-42.

2019: Data Does Democracy

This article, published in Arena Magazine, looks at the 2016 federal election in the United States, and the mass manipulation of voters. The infamous case of Cambridge Analytica, it turns out, is just the tip of the democracy-sinking iceberg. Indeed, managing democracy to serve elite interests has become a booming industry.

If you have an institutional subscription, please support Arena and download this article from Informit. Otherwise, here is a downloadable version without the paywall.

2019: Into the Glorious Future: The Utopia of Cyber-Capitalism according to Google’s Ideologues

This book is written in honour of Manfred Steger, a brilliant scholar, friend and one the primary supervisors of my PhD. The book, Revisiting the Global Imaginary: Theories, ideologies, Subjectivities, was published by Palgrave Macmillin, was edited by Chris Hudson and Erin Wilson.

My contributing chapter is called ‘Into the Glorious Future: The Utopia of Cybernetic Capitalism According to Google’s Ideologues’ and it can be downloaded from here.

2019: Marketing Fascism

This brief article for Arena Magazine was written in the immediate aftermath of the horrific massacre in Christchurch and it traces some of the grim cybernetic marketing strategies employed by the mass murderer.

If you have an institutional subscription, please support Arena and download this article from Informit. Otherwise, here is a downloadable version without the paywall.

2018: 20 Years of Google

Google, Where the Internet Lives

In 2018, the tech-titan commonly known as Google turned 20. In those two decades, it went from a dorm room project to a global institution with tremendous power over the everyday life of billions of people unevenly scattered around the world. In this anniversary year, I published three articles in Arena Magazine that critically reflect on these developments and what they mean for the world.

Informit Download:
Part 1; Part 2; Part 3.
If you have an institutional subscription, please support Arena and use the above download links. Otherwise, the following links don’t have a paywall: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3.

2018: Review: Yasha Levine’s Surveillance Valley

This is a review written for Arena Magazine about Yasha Levine’s book, Surveillance Valley. The review can be downloaded from here.

2018: The Road Map to Brave New World

Lewis Hine (1920) Powerhouse mechanic working on a steam pump

This academic article was written for the Swedish journal Culture Unbound, and can be downloaded open access on their website. The article’s abstract reads:

“This paper explores the shifting practices in and between cartography and capitalism. It compares two road maps of the same territory created one-hundred years apart; a Gulf Oil map from 1915 and a Google Map from 2015. These representations of space serve as entry points into examining some of the larger transformations that have occurred within capitalism over the century. I am interested in how the classic world order of Fordism has been reconstituted by cybernetic capitalism. I argue that the world order has been intensified and reorganised on a more abstract level, with profound subjective and material consequences.”

Citation: Ström, Timothy Erik: “The Road Map to Brave New World: Cartography and Capitalism from Gulf Oil to Google”, Culture Unbound, Volume 9, issue 3, 2017: 307–334.

2017: PhD Thesis: Mapping Google Maps: Critiquing an Ideological Vision of the World

In 2017 I submitted this PhD thesis which, as its name suggests, is a critical investigation of the much used and seldom studied apparatus known as Google Maps.

For more on this, please see it’s dedicated page.

2017: Leviathan in Electric Sheep’s Clothing

This article is about China’s Social Credit System and it was published by Arena Magazine. If you have an institutional subscription, please support Arena and use this download link to access the article via Informit. Otherwise, it can be downloaded here without a pay wall.

Citation: Ström, Timothy Erik. Leviathan in Electric Sheep’s Clothing. Arena Magazine (Fitzroy, Vic), No. 151, Dec 2017: 11-14.

2017: Abstraction and Production in Google Maps

Nest, (2015) Jakub Geltner

This is an academic article that came out of my PhD thesis and was published in Arena Journal. If you have an institutional subscription, please support Arena and download it via Informit. Otherwise, here is a download link without a pay wall.

Citation: Ström, Timothy Erik, 2017, ‘Abstraction and Production in Google Maps: The Reorganisation of Subjectivity, Materiality and Labour’, Arena Journal, 47/48, pp.143-71.

See here for some older writings.